Commodity got its start in fragrances, but the lifestyle brand is broadening its portfolio with greater distribution of candles and a foray into skin care. There are also plans for added distribution in select physical stores and exposure to more global consumers through hotel amenities.
Although founded in 2014 by London-based entrepreneurs Konstantin Glasmacher and Ash Huzenlaub to offer something different than the clutter of celebrity-backed and “non-distinguishable” brands in the market, their initial category of fragrance could produce less than 50 percent of total sales in the next few years.
Not only is there demand for Commodity to branch into whole new categories, according to Huzenlaub, those products, in turn, boost sales of the entire portfolio. Items such as lip balms, body scrubs and bath lotions are less reliant on sniffing and those who buy often convert to the fragrances.
“At Commodity, we’re rooted in fragrance, but from the very beginning the whole intention was to build a lifestyle brand around our own sensibilities in collaboration with artisans across multiple categories,” Huzenlaub told WWD. “We looked at the world, the U.S. was a color market, Asia a skin-care market and Europe is a fragrance market. Fragrance is the most challenging in the U.S., especially in the retail sector. We knew if we could earn a legitimate following and brand loyalty in our launch category [fragrance], we could pivot into other categories people were passionate about.”
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The company did just that, racking up double-digit year-to-year sales without a dollar spent on advertising, driven by user-generated content in social media.
A new tagline, “Essentials for the senses,” opens up to building bath, body and skin-care ranges that mimic the indie and minimalist nature of the brand.
Recently, Commodity developed hotel amenity products. “People are going to want retail sizes of those experiences and that got us thinking about bath and body as a natural extension” Huzenlaub said. Also, company surveys with its direct commerce customers uncovered interest in all beauty categories. “We found they didn’t pigeonhole us as a fragrance brand. They didn’t see any guardrails for us that would prohibit expanding deeper into skin care or other categories in the future.”
Commodity is gearing up with an executive staff loaded with skin-care and color-cosmetics experience. “If you look at our team today, none of them come from a fragrance brand, they all come from skin care and color backgrounds, all from very innovative indie and smaller brands. We’ve got a lot of good industry depth and knowledge on our team.”
The gender-neutral line is also hammering out growth in select retail partners, both on and offline. That includes a new partnership with SpaceNK. In April, SpaceNK launched all of Commodity’s essentials and online in the UK. In the U.S., SpaceNK is offering Commodity Home candles at retail and online. Nordstrom.com will be next to add the candle assortment. Sephora remains the brand’s exclusive partner with full retail and online distribution in North America, Australia, and Southeast Asia for the prestige fragrance assortment which encompasses the Black, White and Platinum collections. In total, Commodity is sold in 550 prestige retail doors across 10 countries and in another 30 countries on its own e-commerce channels.
Huzenlaub added that growth is carefully thought out. “The best decision we have made is saying no more than yes in terms of distribution opportunities. Long term, we have a clear understanding about what is good for Commodity and what is not. We won’t work with distributors. We will only work direct to retailer or direct to consumer,” he said. The right fit is a retailer with at least 25 doors in the prestige or luxury channel.
The company will continue to grow off and online because each nurtures the other, Huzenlaub maintained. “Having spent four years with my sleeves rolled up in the trenches with fragrance, I stand firmly that until someone invents a scratch-and-sniff screen, there are better ways to achieve traction for a fragrance brand than online alone. We’ve shown that through our retail growth. In Commodity you are going to see an edited catalogue of essentials coming out for the brand. A lot of those experiences play much better online. When you see some of the other categories that come out that lend themselves to direct online, that will in turn create a lift for our fragrance.”
Recently, the catalogue expanded with three new unisex fragrances, Commodity Bois, Commodity Velvet and Commodity Nectar. Last month “The Portfolio” was added, a set featuring 15 sample sprays from its original Platinum, Black and White Collections. They can be worn alone or layered. The Portfolio is sold on sephora.com and Commodity’s own web site.